Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered that face covers be worn in public as coronavirus cases explode in the state.
The directive applies to counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases, which covers most of the 254 counties in Texas.
Texas hit a record high of more than 8,000 virus cases in one day on Wednesday, up from about 2,400 two weeks ago.
The Americans are about to mark the weekend of July 4, with beaches closed from coast to coast and fireworks canceled.
There are now 2.7 million infections registered in the country and more than 128,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
What did the governor of Texas say?
“Wearing a face cover will help us keep Texas open for business,” said Abbott, announcing the order.
After a first warning, those who refuse will be fined up to $ 250.
“Let me be clear: no one can ever be put in prison for violating this safe practice,” said the governor.
“Covid-19 is not going to go away,” Abbott, a Republican, said on Thursday. “In fact, it is getting worse. “
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Warning that some intensive care units in hospitals were almost full, he added, “We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so quickly that there is little room for error. ”
The prescription includes a series of “common sense” exemptions, including children aged 10 and under, those who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, people who eat or drink and those who do exercise outdoors.
Texas is now one of 21 states that require the mask to be worn in public, according to Masks4All, a volunteer rights group.
But Abbott’s decision was described as “far too little, far too late” by the Texas Democratic Party.
How did we get here?
Texas led the charge in the U.S. states by loosening the lockdowns that were supposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Abbott authorized the expiration of his first home stay order on April 30, with almost all businesses operating at least 50% of capacity by early June.
But as the virus exploded, Abbott began to back off the reopening of his state last week, ordering the closure of all bars and reducing restaurant capacity from 75 to 50%.
Abbott had initially resisted a state-wide mask order, going as far as prohibiting local governments from requiring facial coatings.
What Texans Think
Rachel Moon, 23, saleswoman in Houston
When we reopened, my friends all went to bars in Houston, and they have all tested positive now.
I’m a Republican, but I don’t think Trump should apply the rules if he doesn’t follow them.
Genesis Valbuena, 26, project manager, Austin
The reopening should have been slower.
I think at the outset, the decision of the local government and the state, which closed everything quickly, was made out of fear rather than data.
Learn more about life inside the American epidemics.
What is the national image?
Infection rates are increasing in 40 of the 50 states, reports the Associated Press, and not all increases can be explained by extensive testing.
Recent reopening fueled job creation at a record 4.8 million in June, according to the United States Department of Labor, but employment remains 14.7 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels .
- Florida reports more than 10,000 new cases a day for the first time – more than any other European country at the height of their outbreaks, Reuters news agency reports.
- Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has extended the state’s public health emergency for another 90 days, which is scheduled to expire on September 9.
- Chicago city officials have announced that Illinois city travelers from 15 of the worst affected states will either quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face fines